Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2022  
  < RETURN  
  Holding Caltrans Accountable
February 14, 2022

I sent the following letter to Caltrans today.

February 14, 2022

Dina El-Tawansy
District 4 Director
111 Grand Ave
Oakland, CA 94612

Toks Omishakin
Caltrans Director
P.O. Box 942873
Sacramento, CA 94273-0001.

Subject: Cleaning Up Caltrans Right-of- Way in Richmond

Dear Directors El-Tawansy and Omishakin:

I am writing you with a sense of frustration about the visual, safety and health conditions of I-580 and I-80 in Richmond.

Largely because of the homeless population that is attracted to these rights-of-way, there continues to be significant accumulations of trash, garbage and litter. Because there are no services for these unsanctioned camps, there is no proper disposal of human waste, and there are reports of discarded needles, both a public health hazard. There are also frequent reports of crimes related to individuals in camps along Caltrans rights-of-way.

Whatever, approach you have been using is not working. When camps go away one day, they start reappearing the next day. Some have never gone away. Trash and litter is abated only periodically, sometimes once a month or less. Campers removed from other cities, like Berkeley, just move up the road to Richmond.

Governor Newsom announced his Clean California Plan for $1.1 billion, but it is either far insufficient, or Richmond is not getting its share.

To actually get on top of this challenge requires you to make daily inspections up and down I-80 and I-580, and remove both campers and trash on a daily basis.

The City of Richmond is in no position and does not have the resources to relocate campers that Caltrans has moved. Contra Costa County may be in a better position to help, Supervisor John Gioia tells me that there are both shelter and hotel beds generally available, but we know many campers are reluctant to go there.

While I sympathize with you, I need to emphasize that this is a Caltrans problem to solve, not a Richmond problem, and we expect you to solve it. I have found that the only effective way to make sure campers don’t return is to relocate them into an apartment. For less than 15% of Caltrans’ annual budget, and for less than 1% of the California State budget, every homeless person in California could be placed into an apartment.

I have to add that the current Caltrans approach to these issues in Richmond appears discriminatory. We do not see freeway rights-of-way in this condition in wealthier locations in the Bay Area. It will take more effort, but Richmond deserved to have freeways that are as clean as I-680 in Danville, I-80 in Fairfield, I-280 in palo Alto or I-5 in Manteca.

Please let me know when and how you plan to keep I-8 and I-680 in Richmond clean.


Mayor Tom Butt
City of Richmond

Cc: Gov.          Gavin Newsom
                        Senator Mancy Skinner
                        Assembly Member Buffy Wicks
                        Supervisor John Gioia